Beatrice Harraden.

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And, in any case, why should she go ? What was
that old woman to her ? Why should she be called
upon to leave her business and all her own affairs and


have the expense and trouble of the journey to Dorset-
shire for the sake of gratifying a stranger ? Perhaps
not even gratifying her. She would be far more likely
to say : "I never sent for you. What have you come
for ? Don't think for a moment that you will get a fee
out of me. No one is worth two fees."

Tamar heard her say these very words, and she laughed.
The remembrance of her visit swept over her, and the
whole scene was conjured up for her : the old Manor
House, proud and dreary in its isolation : the feeble old
woman, with her bright eyes and mocking manner, a
rival in rudeness and in jewel worship : and that aged
retainer, frail and tottering himself, on whose trembling
arm she had to lean for support, probably because no
one else would bear with her.

A sudden longing carne over Tamar to go to her ; and
the more she thought of her, the more she desired to see
her and do something or other to give her pleasure. Yes,
she would go and would fulfil her promise to show the
old lady some of her own treasures. It would not hurt
her to take a few in her pocket ; and it would be stimu-
lating to both of them to have a battle royal over the
merits or faults of, say, those very curious rubies lately
bought from the Austrian ambassador, or that amazing
black pearl, or those cornflower-blue sapphires on which
she set great store. Tamar got up to take them out of
the safe, but as she was handling the rubies, she stopped
short and turned to the table on which the emeralds
lay. She put the rubies slowly back and closed the safe.

" If I take her anything, it should be the emeralds,"
she said aloud.

" No, I can't take them," she said, shaking her head.
(t If she sees them, she will want them."

She opened the safe again.

" I will take instead the rubies, the sapphires, and
the black pearls, all of them," she said. " She would
want the emeralds fiercely. She can't have them."

She began to argue with herself.

" It is not any concern of mine if her collection is incom-
plete. What do I care ? " she asked.


But an inner voice answered :

' You know perfectly well those emeralds belong there."

'' They were given to me," Tamar remonstrated.

" You know perfectly well they belong there," the
inner voice said. " You ought to give the old woman
the chance of buying them back."

" Never," Tamar said defiantly. " Never."

" At a handsome profit," the inner voice added.

" No, not even at that," Tamar replied. " They are
mine, and I shall keep them. If the old woman has
hungered for them all her life, she can just go on hungering
to the end. She is nothing to me."

" She is something to you," the inner voice said. " And
you know it. She is a comrade. She and you worship
at the same shrine. If her adoration falls a little short
of yours, it is only due to circumstances. You must
treat her as a true comrade, and let her see those emeralds."

" No," Tamar said stubbornly.

" And buy them if she wants to do so," the voice added

"No, no," Tamar said with fierceness. "No, no.
Never, never. That ends it."

But it did not end it ; for all through that long night
Tamar wrestled with herself, sleeping and waking. She
was pursued by the Presence of that eighteenth-century
lady, no longer smiling, but menacing. Emeralds floated
before her, chased away by rubies , cornflower-blue sapphires ,
and black pearls. Thousands of aged retainers implored
her on their knees to yield up those emeralds, and a chorus
of voices told her to treat the old woman generously
as a true comrade of the spirit ; and another chorus
warned her against being a weak fool, and exhorted her
to cling on to her treasure and let no one have it, and
certainly not that arrogant and worthless old woman,
whose course in any case was almost run. In all the
tumult of action and sound, only Mrs. Bracebridge herself
was passive and silent. She appeared throughout a
proud, detached personage, unconcerned with the results
of the contest, but hugely amused by the havoc she was
causing. She merely bent forward on her black cane,


and in this favourite attitude surveyed the crowded arena
with eyes which were brighter than diamonds and which
sparkled with mischief. She was, in fact, by reason
of her calmness and quiet mirth, an immense comfort to
poor Tamar's distraught brain. Although she did not
speak a word, she seemed to be saying the whole time :
" Well, really, this is very funny, and in spite of Jenkins,
I shall laugh as much as I please."

Tamar woke up with a laugh.

" I shall go and see her," she said. " And I shall take
the emeralds as well as the rubies, the black pearls and
the sapphires."


MANY conflicting thoughts surged in Tamar's mind during
her journey to Dorsetshire, and once or twice she nearly
made the decision to show only the rubies and sapphires
and black pearls, and not the emeralds. But the long
struggle ended in a triumph for the more generous part
of T. Scott's nature ; and she resolved not only to produce
the emeralds, but also to give the old lady the chance
of buying them and thus completing the collection and
restoring what she considered to be the family honour.

" I must, of course, sell them at a considerable profit,"
Tamar reflected. " But not too considerable."

But even then Tamar was not making a light sacrifice,
since no profit could compensate her for the loss of the
emeralds which had come to her so strangely, and which
even Bramfield had said belonged in some mysterious
way to her, and her only. She passed through real suffering
when she looked at them for the last time, and knew
that very soon they would be hers no more, and that all
that would be left to her, would be the memory of their
marvellous colour and quality. But something stronger
than her worship of precious stones urged her to relinquish
her own right to them ; and her sacrifice, though reluctant,
was not grudging and mean. Indeed she already found
herself counting on the pleasure of seeing the old woman's
surprise and delight.


" Of course she'll be rude and scornful at first," Tamar
reflected with a smile. " But I understand that. I
should be the same."

She arrived at the Manor House and rang the bell.
Jenkins appeared after some time, and was greatly stirred
when he saw her. He put his finger to his lips, looked
first in this direction and then in that, and having satisfied
himself that Keturah was not within hearing, said in his
cracked voice :

" Don't tell her I asked you to come. She'd be very
angry, and she has no strength to be angry with. She
is very feeble very, very feeble."

He shook his head gravely as he spoke, and there were
tears in his eyes.

" I understand," Tamar said kindly. " She shall
think I have come, as I promised, to show her some of
my jewels."

The old fellow's face brightened, and he was on the
point of leaving Tamar to wait in the hall, when he changed
his mind and signed to her to follow him upstairs. It
was again obvious that he did not trust her, and did not
wish to have her out of his sight. He left her standing
outside Mrs. Bracebridge's boudoir, and disappeared
into the room. He returned in a minute or two, with
the ghost of a smile on his face and the ghost of an apology
in his manner.

" I was to make sure that you didn't want a second
fee," he said, not looking at Tamar.

Tamar smiled, and said :

" Tell your mistress I've accepted the fact that no
one is worth a second fee."

Jenkins retreated, chuckling a little, and soon beckoned
her into the boudoir. He held the door open for her
to pass in, and then withdrew, to take up his guard, as
ever, outside, within call and within reach. He was
evidently satisfied with the success of his secret planning,
and in leaving, glanced at Tamar with some slight degree
of approval and confidence.

Tamar approached the couch where the old lady lay
wrapped up in innumerable shawls and rugs. She looked


much older and thinner than a few weeks ago, and her
eyes had lost their extraordinary brightness. But a
spark of mischief came into them directly she saw Tamar,
and a slight rallying into her manner.

" Ah," she said, " so you've come, and as I understand
clearly, without expecting a fee. Well, I don't at all
object to seeing you. I rather like it. You can sit down."

" Thank you," Tamar said submissively, and she drew
a chair to the side of the couch.

" I want to show you some stones and ask your advice,"
Tamar began.

" So you want my advice," old Mrs. Bracebridge said.
" No one has ever wanted my advice. It's most stimu-
lating. And at my time of life. Most remarkable. Most

She laughed quietly, and seemed immensely amused
by the idea.

She watched Tamar in silence for a few moments, and
then went on :

" You remember you said something absurd about
' the larger vision.' That amused me, too. I've laughed
and laughed over that until poor Jenkins has implored
me to keep still. Jenkins is always ludicrously anxious
about me. He insisted on my lying down wrapped up
in this compact and uncomfortable fashion. Well, why
don't you speak and show what you've brought, instead
of staring at me as though I were a mummy. I may
look like one, but I'm not one yet."

Tamar in answer produced from her pocket a small
parcel, which she began to unfasten slowly. She planned
to show first the rubies, then the black pearls, then the
sapphires and finally the emeralds. But she could not
carry out her scheme because, by mistake, she opened
the packet containing the emeralds, and before she could
cover them over, Mrs. Bracebridge's quick eyes had seen
those glittering stones.

" Emeralds ! " she exclaimed, raising herself suddenly
from the couch. " Emeralds ! Let me have them."

She snatched them convulsively from Tamar's lap,
examined the necklace, the cross, the ring, uttered a


low cry of rapture and triumph, and clutched them to
her heart.

" The same emeralds," she cried. " At last, at last
I have them at last they are mine."

She sank back on her pillow, gave a moan of pain,
closed her eyes, and still clutching her treasures, passed
from this life.



IT was curious how Marion Silverhowe hankered after
that little moorland hamlet in Yorkshire at the back
of beyond. She had found it a year ago whilst she had
been on the tramp with one of her friends, like herself a
class teacher at one of the large London High Schools.
And to-night, when she had to make a decision about a
most tempting invitation to Scotland, the little lonely
place and the people she had met there put in such an
insistent claim that she resolved at least to begin her
holiday in that neighbourhood.

She saw the scene before her now. Moors rose in billows
all around. In the distance were the austere fells. A
wild ravine pierced the hills near by, and at the foot of one
of them lay the tiny hamlet, in the days of hand-loom
weaving probably a prosperous place, but now consisting
only of a few scattered cottages, a fine old ruined hall,
with noble mullioned windows still intact, a school- house,
small but beautifully proportioned, proud also with its
mullioned, diamond-paned windows, and a large and curious
building dated 1701, a Foundation Hospital for Indigent
Women, the gift of a pious man of the past. A stream
ran through the village, and blasted of no less than three
bridges, one of modern structure, another for pack-horses
and foot passengers, and the third, of undressed stone,
worn by centuries of use. Marion was lingering by it
whilst her friend sketched it, when sounds of laughter
from the school-house reached her. And she had been
impelled to peep through the half-open door, and steal a



glance at the class of little boys and girls and their teacher
making merriment together.

The teacher was more than middle-aged, and belonged
to a past type of schoolmistress, probably not too much
burdened with the weight of wisdom ; but she had a charm-
ing expression of countenance, and it was obvious that
there was an excellent understanding between herself and
her pupils, some of whose faces were extraordinarily eager
and alert.

The children had caught sight of the stranger and fixed
their eyes steadily on her. Little Tom Prior, whose blunder
in his reading had caused the united outburst of mirth,
stopped suddenly.

" Go on, Tommy, and try and do better," said the
schoolmistress indulgently.

But all he did, was to stare at the door, and then point
towards it with one fat finger, which he then put in his
mouth and sucked.

The schoolmistress turned round to see what momentous
happening was distracting the attention of her scholars,
and at once advanced towards Marion, not with the frown
of reprimand which the outsider knew full well she deserved,
but with a smile of welcome.

" Please forgive me," Marion said. " I could not resist
peeping in. I'm a teacher myself."

" Do come in," the schoolmistress said. " We do love
to see a visitor sometimes in this lonely place don't we,
children ? "

" Yes, teacher ! " they answered in chorus.

"It relieves the great strain on our brains," said the
schoolmistress, with a twinkle in her eye.

Marion laughed, and entered gladly. She had an easy
way with children, and at once made friends with these
little strangers. There were twelve, and they came from
distant parts of the moorland, from over the hills and far
away, through snow and sleet and slush and rain and wind,
until spring and summer gave them the promise and the
fulfilment of more genial conditions for their journeyings
in search of wisdom. The wonder was that they ever
survived the whiter ordeal. But they survived and thrived,


and perhaps even picked up a crumb of knowledge here
and there.

She was shown their copy-books and drawing-books.
With due enthusiasm she praised weird pictures of pigs
and cows and horses and trees " done from memory."
And she was introduced to what the teacher called the
school library, a pitiful collection of about hah* a dozen
well-worn children's books of ancient date. Marion thought
it tragic that in these days of book wealth, no gleanings
even should have reached this solitary little outpost.
She promised to send some nice new volumes, and asked
the children what they would like.

" I'd like a book about the fairies," said Gertie.

" I'd like a book about the Red Indians," said Billie.

" I'd like a story about lions and tigers," said Tommy
Prior ; " them what eats you up."

And Marion laughed, and said she would remember all
their tastes.

They did not want to part from their new friend, but
followed her and the schoolmistress into the tiny chapel
attached to the school, and lingered around until a pretty
little old lady came in view : when they made a dash at
her, and nearly overwhelmed her with demonstrative

" Do you see that old lady ? " the schoolmistress said
to Marion. " Doesn't she look a sweet old thing ? And
that's what she is. The children and I love her dearly.
She is one of the ten old ladies living in the Foundation
Hospice yonder. I think she must have seen prosperous
days in the past. But she has lived in the neighbourhood
for many years, or else she would not have been admitted
to the Foundation. She comes to read poetry to the
children, or to tell them stories, or talk to them about
interesting things. She has a ready answer to all their
questions. Sometimes I envy her a little and wish I knew
as much. But I am so glad for their sakes that we have
her. And glad for my own sake, too, of course. We
simply shouldn't know how to get on without Mrs. Glen-
rose. Will you come and speak to her ? "

Marion saw that the little lady was about seventy years


or so. She was distinctly dainty, though shabby, and
wore her clothes with that mysterious grace known only
to the favoured few. Her face was delicate and refined,
and her bearing had a gracious dignity combined with an
engaging ease. She was evidently quite a personality ;
and it struck Marion at the time that she would be unfor-
gettable. Whoever she was, and whatever life had done
to her, it was obvious that she had retained some light-
heartedness and sense of fun. Humour played round her
sensitive mouth, and her bright eyes had a lingering light
of mischief in them.

" Mrs. Glenrose," the schoolmistress said, " this lady
is going to send us some new books. Isn't it good of her ? "

" What delightful news," said Mrs. Glenrose, smiling
at Marion. " Do you know, I woke up this morning feeling
quite sure that something pleasant was going to happen.
And I found that my rose-tree was in bloom and now
we hear about new books. What more could one want,
I wonder ? "

They took Marion to see the old ruined Hall, and were
followed by the children and by Tim, a strange-looking
dwarf who was accompanied in his strolls by a bodyguard
of eight cackling geese. Afterwards they went to the
Foundation Hospice, the haven of ten old ladies in their
declining years.

Marion greeted two or three of them who were lingering
in the paved courtyard, and sat down for a few minutes
in Mrs. Glenrose's kitchen, which, poor and humble though
it was, bore signs of refined taste. One or two pretty
landscapes, some books, and several carefully tended ferns
proclaimed the owner to be a lover of sweet things. Marion
took up a book by hazard. It was the " Golden Treasury
of Verse," and it was open at Wordsworth's " Ode to

" You love poetry," she said, turning to Mrs. Glenrose.

" Yes, I love poetry," the old lady answered dreamily.
" And that ode is one of my favourites."

She murmured half to herself:

" The splendour in the grass, the glory in the flower,
the innocent brightness of a new-born day, the obstinate


questionings, the immortal sea which brought us hither
ah, how beautiful all the language is."

Marion came away arrested, mystified. On her return
to London she sent books to the school library and volumes
of poems to the little old lady. And probably nothing in
recent years pleased her so much as the acknowledgments

from the schoolmistress of H with the signatures of

all the scholars, and a letter from Mrs. Glenrose in the
fine pointed Italian handwriting of a bygone time. They
all dwelt in her memory. They became inextricably
woven into her love of the moors. She thought of the
heather and peat bogs and the wail of the curlew, and the
wonderful clouds racing over the wild moorland, and the
children, and the mists veiling the rugged fells, and the
rills and streams and deep glens, and the teacher who
loved her flock, and the mystery of the mountains in the
fading light, and the little old lady from a fairy book
masquerading as a Foundation pensioner, and the cattle
grazing on the uplands, and the cattle-barns dotted here
and there, and the shepherds' huts, and the rush of the
pure, fresh air, magical in its healing power.

These were the memories which crowded on her and
made her decide to answer to their call.

That night, probably because she was steeped in their
remembrance, she dreamed of all the delights which the
moors had to offer her ; and strangely enough also of her
father who had been dead for three or four years. It
was the first time she had ever dreamed of that stern,
grave man who had always been good and gentle to her,
however forbidding and reserved to the outside world.
Her mother she had never known. She had died soon
after Marion's birth, and he never spoke of her ; and there
were no lingering traces of her personality in the home :
no portrait, no photograph, no little possession of hers
surviving from her past. When Marion grew up and asked
for details about her unknown parent, she learnt nothing
save that her mother had been an orphan, fair and lovely
as a flower, bright in her nature and not meant for death.
Yet he had lost her. And it seemed that he had never
recovered from the blow he had sustained.


" I cannot speak of her," he had said almost imploringly.
" One has to live one's life in one's own way. Be merciful,
my child, and leave me alone with my memory of her."

But after his death, she found amongst his papers a
daguerreotype of himself as a young man and his bride.
She hung it over her bed. And when she dreamed of her
father that night, she saw him as he was in that faded
portrait, young, grave-looking even then, and with a quiet
nobility of countenance which Time did not destroy.


IN a day or two Marion went off to Yorkshire, arrived
at her destination in Wharfedale, and put up at the small

inn in C , where she and her friend had sojourned the

previous year. The next morning she tramped over the

moors to the hamlet of H , and scarcely noticed the

six miles stretch : so fresh and uplif ting was the air on this
perfect May day. The lights were soft and caressing on
the distant fells, and the belt of trees on the lower slopes
was only barely touched with delicate green tints. The
highest peaks showed even a shimmering of snow. The
dove-coloured clouds racing over the moorland displayed
an ever-changing scene of wonder of which summer in its
more garish beauty could never boast. The peat-marshes
were sending out their salt-laden breath, and the heather,
not yet in bloom, was nevertheless preparing to receive
and bestow its priceless purple jewels for all the world
to behold in unmatched splendour.

Marion stepped down into the vale, and arrived at the
little village with its stream and bridges. She passed
the ruined Hall, and the Foundation Hospice, and did not
pause a moment until she had reached the school- house.

She found, to her great disappointment, that it was
closed. There were no signs of the children, no sounds
of life in the precincts. She turned away feeling sad and
disheartened : for she had been imagining to herself the
pleasantness of a surprise visit, and anticipating a warm
welcome both from children and teacher. Then across


the pack-horse bridge Tim, the queer dwarf, came waddling,
followed by the geese, which hissed menacingly at her.

He drove them off as she advanced to meet him. He
remembered her at once, for it was only on rare occasions
that strangers came to H .

" You was here before," he said. " You was speaking
with the schoolmistress."

" Yes," she answered, smiling kindly at him. " Tell
me, is the school closed ? "

" Teacher be dead," he answered. " They be a-burying
she to-day up to Settle."

" Dead ! " Marion repeated. " Dead ! "

He nodded.

" She be dead of the influenzy same as my old mother
died from three years agone," he said.

He retreated across the bridge with his strange com-
panions, muttering to himself :

" Three years agone, three years agone."

Marion stood looking after him, a chill at her heart.
The schoolmistress dead, her quiet life over, her work in
this lonely place done, her love for the children, her pride
in the growth of the treasured library, her regrets over her
own shortcomings things of the past. Words from her
last letter sent in acknowledgment of a further instalment
of books, stole back to Marion's remembrance :

" If we go on like this, our library will become the pride
of the moors, as well as the pride of our hearts. How well
you know what to send to supply our needs. How I wish
I were like you, and could give the children what you
could give of stored knowledge and bright interest. For
they ought to have the best. All children ought to have
the best. When you come to us again and I know you
will come I want you one day to give them a lesson. Will
you ? And I shall sit by and watch their little faces brighten
up with a light which I could never kindle, no matter how
much I tried."

Just three weeks ago that letter had come from her.
And now she was dead.

Then Marion, half in a dream, wended her way to the
Foundation Hospice. An old woman was brushing some


clothes in the courtyard, and another was carrying some
flowers into the chapel which divided the two wings of
the building. Marion greeted them both, and was turning
off to the right-hand side to find Mrs. Glenrose's quarters
at No. 8, when the old dame who was brushing the clothes
said :

" I live at Number 3, on the left. Perhaps you be

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Online LibraryBeatrice HarradenThirteen all told → online text (page 14 of 23)